WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) introduced the Freedom To Vote Act, S. 2747, a compromise voting rights bill which has been in the works since For the People Act, S.1, was blocked by a Republican filibuster in June. Despite overwhelming support within the Democratic party for S.1, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) remained opposed to the wide-sweeping bill on the principle of bipartisan support. During the August recess, Manchin drafted the proposal for the new compromise bill in close collaboration with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Klobuchar, Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-ME), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.).
Similar to S.1, the compromise bill establishes minimum requirements for how states conduct federal elections. This includes: expanded early voting, no-excuse vote by mail for all Americans, automatic and online voter registration systems and providing a process for curing ballots, among other provisions. The compromise bill also works to protect election workers, count provisional ballots and create a 30-minute wait time limit on early voting. Additionally, the bill permits states to decide whether to require voter identification, but greatly broadens the list of acceptable IDs for states that choose to require them. The compromise bill would also restore the right to vote for individuals with past felony convictions, promote accessible voting for disabled, Native and overseas voters and mandate guidelines for congressional redistricting, including a ban on partisan gerrymandering.
The fate of the Freedom To Vote Act still lies on what steps Democrats take to overcome the 60-vote filibuster, as finding 10 Republicans to support the compromise bill remains unlikely. The Biden administration strongly supports federal voting rights action, and may ramp up lobbying in the coming days.